Monday, October 03, 2011

Dead Island Tips - Part 1 Character Selection

With four options available which character is the best one to play in Dead Island? A trite answer would be "Depends on how you want to play". Although almost always true to some degree there are some biases apparent that make this a little more complex.

The Characters

Our four character in the order they're presented when selecting a new game are: Logan, Purna, Xian and Sam B. Whilst scrolling through them each is shown with their speciality and a numerical figure that represents their aptitude in the three attributes of Health, Speed, and Stamina. Health dictates how much damage the character can take. Speed how fast the character can run. Stamina how long the character can run for or use melee weapons for before they become tired. As such:

Logan is a Throwing Expert with a 100/100/80 rating.
Purna is a Firearms Expert with a 100/100/90 rating.
Xian is a Sharp weapon Expert with a 90/100/100 rating.
Sam B is a Blunt Weapon Expert with a 110/100/90 rating.

For those quick on the draw you'll note that the 'default' Logan has a 10-point loss and Sam B a 10-point gain. As for their expertise these determine which and what type of skills are available in the skill tree for each character. The choice of character revolves around these skills and as such it would have been nice to be able to see them before a final choice has to be made.

The Skill Tree

All the skills a character can acquire are arranged into three main column headings - Fury, Combat, and Survival. Fury skills deal with a characters special attack. Combat with benefits to weapon usage that tends to favour a character's expertise. Survival deals with the remaining miscellanea that doesn't fit into the other two columns.

Cutting things short the skills themselves are arranged in rows top down and the player only gains access to the top level of skills until enough points have been spent at which point the next tier unlocks. A large amount of the skills are duplicated with fill-in-gaps dependent on expertise. So Xian may get a -15% stamina use on Sharp weapons with Sam B getting a -15% stamina use on Blunt weapons. The unique skills are much more interesting.

Firstly there's the Fury column, although again skills duplicate the nature of each character's Fury differs.

Logan - unlimited throwing knives;
Purna - unlimited pistol ammunition;
Xian - increased damage with knife without degradation of weapon;
Sam B - increased damage with fists including instant KOs.

The other skills under this column affect the damage caused; the length of time Fury lasts; what actions recharges the Fury (Rage) meter etc.

The Combat column, as mentioned, tends to deal with each characters speciality.

Logan favours Throwing and one-handed weapons
Purna favours Firearms, but also has general melee skills
Xian favours Sharp weapons to the exclusion of anything else
Sam B favours Blunt weapons with one minor skill for firearms

Finally the Survival Tree. This contains the most unique skills.

Logan - may automatically retrieve thrown weapons; gain extra stamina and health; regenerate health when drunk.
Purna - Boosts all weapon skills for everyone in a group within a set radius; can carry more ammo; may be instantly revived after death; can avoid interruption from attack.
Xian - Medkits are more effective; experience point boosts; stamina enhancements.
Sam B - Regenerating health; damage received reduction.

Considerations while playing the game

Keeping the infected at a distance seems the best solution, but throwing a weapon may leave the player defenceless and the paucity of firearms and the need to make or scrounge ammunition doesn't make this a sound strategy for fighting. Sharp items can be found, but the most ubiquitous are of the blunt variety.

Although medicine and health reviving drinks and snacks can easily be found for the majority of time use of them leaves the player vulnerable for a moment.


Logan is played as the all-rounder, but his specialist skill will leave him defenceless. Health regeneration via alcohol will result in double focussed screen during its effects and leave the player one bottle of alcohol down for trading for Molotov cocktails.

Purna gets some good bonuses, but doesn't come into her own until a firearm can be found along with  ammo-producing blueprints.

Xian can level quickly and gets extra benefit from medkits. Sharp weapons are plentiful as well as modification plans for them. Likewise they can cut and cause bleeding or severing and appear to have base damage statistics higher than the blunt equivalents.

Sam B can regenerate health, push enemies aside and can make full use of the blunt weapons scattered everywhere around the island as well as the many modifications available for them.


Logan's abilities are too spread or cause their own problems. Purna would be a good choice in a co-operative game with her group bonuses and possible insta-revive. Xian has her XP bonuses, but only being able to use Sharp weapons effectively limits her usefulness; but it's Sam B's regenerating health and initial 10 point lead that has to make him the prime candidate. Add in bonuses for the ubiquitous blunt weapons and added bonuses on modified weapons and he's the powerhouse.

Single Player - Sam B; Xian; Purna; Logan
Co-op players Sam B and Purna; Sam B, Purna, and Xian; Sam B, Purna, Xian and Logan.

Dead Island Tips Part 2 - Getting Started, the basics